Questions have been raised over the repeat of old accusations of corruption against Musa Aman today, with the former Sabah chief minister dismissing them as politically motivated.
“This is a politically motivated case, why now?” Musa asked moments after he claimed trial to 35 charges of corruption, which include allegations that he accepted bribes worth millions of ringgit over timber concessions.
Musa’s counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad also questioned if his client’s arrest had to do with the impending judgment on his claim as the rightful chief minister of Sabah, following Shafie Apdal’s appointment in the wake of the May elections after several defections from Barisan Nasional.
The Kota Kinabalu High Court had set Wednesday (Nov 7) to deliver its ruling on the Originating Summons filed by Musa for a declaration that he is the lawful chief minister of the state.
“Why arrest him now, just before the High Court is set to deliver its decision?
“I hope that this is not some ploy to prejudice Musa in the eyes of the Kota Kinabalu High Court,” lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad said in a statement after his client claimed trial to 35 counts of graft at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on Monday (Nov 5).
“The charges are based on allegations made 10 to 14 years ago,” Amer said, adding that the timing of the charges smelt of selective prosecution.
He repeated his hope that the courts would not be prejudiced or influenced by Musa’s arrest, calling it “politically convenient” by the MACC.
Musa, meanwhile, said he had already been cleared of the charges in 2012, and recalled a statement in Parliament by then-minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz.
In 2012, Nazri – the de facto law minister at the time – told Parliament there was no graft in Sabah timber tycoon Michael Chia’s purported RM40 million donation to Sabah Umno.
In relation to this, Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) seized about RM40 million worth of Singaporean dollars in 2008.
Nazri would later tell Parliament that Chia was never arrested by the ICAC, and that the money was returned once the case turned cold.
Chia’s name appeared in 16 of the 35 charges laid against Musa today.
In each charge, Musa was accused of receiving gratification through proxies, including Chia, in either Hong Kong or Singapore.
The total amount collected was allegedly US$63.3 million (approximately RM263 million at current rates).
In 2012, PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli had also claimed that Chia had links with Nazri’s eldest son, Nedim.
Musa pleaded not guilty today before Judge Rozina Ayob to 35 charges under Section 11(a) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 for accepting gratification by agent.
He had allegedly received a total of US$63 million (around RM243 million) in Hong Kong and Singapore as an inducement for offering timber concessions in Sabah.
The offences were allegedly committed between Dec 20, 2004, and Nov 6, 2008.
Musa today said he would fight the charges in court to clear his name.
He posted the first portion of his RM2 million bail, that is RM1 million, today and was released at 4.45pm with the remainder due on Wednesday.